Posted: Jan 09, 2018
Brian Hobaugh's 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
Brian Hobaugh's 1973 Camaro may be the most-famous, most-photographed second gen Camaro on the planet. Find out what he did to make it stand out in the Power Source blog.
Brian Hobaugh's history with OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series goes back to the very beginnings of the series and his history with the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) is nearly as long. Brian has competed in three different cars over the years, but the focus of our video feature below today will rest squarely with his 1973 Camaro, which burst onto the scene when it finished on the podium at the 2011 OUSCI.
Brian moved closer to an OUSCI title when he was runner-up to Mark Stielow's '67 Camaro (Mayhem) at the 2012 OUSCI, which prompted him to change things up for 2013. Brian had a 1965 Stingray that had been in his family for several decades, which he felt might do better on the RideTech Autocross and the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge, even if it sacrificed some in the horsepower department and on the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge. The strategy paid off and Hobaugh's Vette captured the 2013 OUSCI title. It later went on to international fame when it was used as the hero car for Letty in Fast & Furious 8.
The Camaro came back out in the first year of OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series at Portland International Raceway in 2014. It was there that Brian's Camaro picked up the fastest pre-1980 American Iron award from Detroit Speed. As the defending champion of the OUSCI, he had already qualified for a return trip to defend his title and he brought the Corvette back for another shot at glory. However, 2014 proved to be the year that all-wheel drive cars and modern performance cars made their presence known and Brian's Stingray finished in sixth behind some very stout competition.
Hobaugh saw the writing on the wall and was already preparing a C5 Corvette for competition in the 2015 season. His hard work paid off, as Hobaugh won the season-opener at Thunderhill, capturing a return invite to the 2015 OUSCI. The Camaro did make an appearance at the series stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Kyle Tucker's second gen Camaro edged out Hobaugh's F-body for the win. As had been the case in prior years, the field at the 2015 edition was the deepest and most-competitive to date and Brian finished 23rd out of 81 finishers.
With a year of development under his belt, Brian took on the 2016 season with a full head of steam, searching for a regular season championship in the RECARO GTS Class and a strong performance at the OUSCI. As he did the prior year, Hobaugh took the early lead, capturing the class win and OUSCI invitation at the season-opener at Thunderhill. The next stop was Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Hobaugh would go head-to-head with what turned out to be his toughest competition of the season in Steve Kepler's 2013 Nissan GT-R and Lynn Proctor's 2005 Dodge Viper.
Proctor's Viper bested the bunch at Vegas, but Hobaugh's C5 was able to hold off the GTR's awd onslaught. The trio was able to square off again later in the season at Pike's Peak International Raceway, but not before Kepler's Nissan posted a 492-point performance at New Jersey Motorsports Park (where neither Proctor nor Hobaugh ran). The finishing order at PPIR was the same between the three, except that Glen Barnhouse's Corvette rose up and captured the RECARO GTS Class win.
Hobaugh also made a stop at Circuit of the Americas, where he placed second in class to Curt Trawick's 2016 Porsche GT3 RS, but Kepler posted another big score of 487 points with his class win at Road America. That sent Hobaugh's Corvette back East again to square off with Kepler's GT-R at NOLA Motorsports Park. The battle was once again a tight one, although Kepler's GT-R came out on top this time (with Chad Langley's Corvette earning the GTS Class win) and in doing so, clinched the RECARO GTS regular season championship.
With the math already settled, Hobaugh opted not to run in the regular season finale, although Lynn Proctor did, trying to pass Hobaugh for second place in the point standings, but came up just 13 points short of his goal. Hobaugh did end up getting the best of Proctor and Kepler at the 2016 OUSCI, posting a 17th place finish overall.
The 2017 season may be remembered as the year when the competition in the RECARO GTS Class went off the charts. Hobaugh posted another strong finish with a 472-point performance in the RECARO GTS Class at the season-opener in Las Vegas. That was seven points more than his total at his season-opening win at Thunderhill in 2016, but at Vegas, it was only good enough for fourth place in class. Hobaugh shifted gears once again, parked the C5 and brought the Camaro back out for the Pike's Peak event, which he won.
Hobaugh's Camaro became an immediate championship contender in the GTV Class, as he was still able to squeeze in two more events on the schedule. John Lazorack III's '88 Chrysler Conquest topped the Camaro at Auto Club Speedway, but the math still showed Hobaugh had a chance to take home the regular season championship at Road America. However, the math also showed Larry Woo's '68 Camaro and Lazorack III's Chevy-powered Mopar were also in the mix. They ended up being the only three GTV cars to eclipse the 400-point mark at Road America. Woo took home the class win, which gave him enough points to get past Hobaugh, but he fell short of Lazorack III.
The 3rd place/27th place regular season finishes were almost a flip flop outcome from the 2015 season, where Hobaugh's C5 placed 4th in the RECARO GTS Class, while the Camaro's single appearance netted it a 30th place finish. The 2017 OUSCI again proved to be a gathering of some of the world's very best all-around street cars, but Hobaugh's Camaro improved finished four spots higher in 13th place, than the Corvette did the prior year.
Hobaugh is tentatively set to run the C5 again in 2018 in the buzzsaw of a class known at RECARO GTS, but those plans could change. Stay on top of the series and get filled in on anything you might've missed, by adding the OPTIMA Network to Roku. It's a free download and it holds all the past episodes of the series for your viewing enjoyment. Spectators are also welcome to take in the action when it happens, so if the 2018 series schedule stops near you, come on out!
2011- 3rd Place ('73 Camaro)
2012- 2nd Place ('73 Camaro)
2013- 1st Place ('65 Corvette)
2014- 6th Place ('65 Corvette)
2015- 23rd Place ('03 Corvette)
2016- 17th Place ('03 Corvette)
2017- 13th Place ('73 Camaro)
OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series Results
2015- 4th Place RECARO GTS ('03 Corvette)
2015- 30th Place GTV ('73 Camaro)
2016- 2nd Place RECARO GTS ('03 Corvette)
2017- 27th Place RECARO GTS ('03 Corvette)
2017- 3rd Place GTV ('73 Camaro)